CURRIE CUP RUGBY
High-riding Sharks will be wary of tough Griquas
The Sharks will be up against it to continue their impressive Currie Cup-winning streak against Griquas in Kimberley on Friday after being forced into making changes for the match.
After winning seven straight matches‚ the Sharks have almost secured a semifinal berth‚ needing just seven log points from their remaining four games to guarantee at least fourth place in the standings.
But their ambitions are a lot greater than just scraping into the last four.
"We’re proud of the fact that we’re undefeated in seven matches‚" said coach Robert du Preez. "There is still so much more that this team is capable of doing. We are entering the business end of this competition and it’s time for us to take our performances up another gear."
Star centre Lukhanyo Am and impressive flank Jacques Vermeulen will miss the match through injury. Marius Louw will replace Am, while Tyler Paul will move from lock to flank, with Jean Droste coming in to the second row.
Veteran Springbok Odwa Ndungane is preferred at wing to Tythan Adams and there are rotational switches to the front row, with prop Juan Schoeman and hooker Franco Marais starting as Thomas du Toit and Akker van der Merwe drop to the bench.
Griquas are tough opponents and that clash is followed by a date with the Blue Bulls.
"We chatted about how tough this fortnight of matches was going to be‚ especially since we were up against two teams who play an abrasive style of rugby‚" Du Preez said. "The Griquas are always difficult at home. Discipline is going to be important."
Western Province No8 Nizaam Carr will earn his 50th cap for the union when he runs out against the Pumas in Nelspruit on Friday night.
Upfront, there are two new props with JC Janse van Rensburg at loosehead and Michael Kumbirai coming into the starting line-up at tighthead‚ in the absence of Wilco Louw‚ who has been called up to the Springbok squad in New Zealand.
Ali Vermaak and Caylib Oosthuizen provide front-row cover‚ with loose forward Sikhumbuzo Notshe alongside them to provide impact off the replacements bench.
The only change to the backline that did duty in the 57-14 victory against the Free State Cheetahs at Newlands last weekend sees a fit again Seabelo Senatla on the rightwing‚ with his Springbok Sevens teammate Werner Kok dropping to the bench.